Science & Technology

Army, Navy lends muscle to perovskite solar cells

The US Department of Defense is shifting its focus to a climate change stance, which includes support for new clean technologies. In the latest development, both the Army and the Navy have lent financial firepower to the new 2D perovskite solar cell research project. If all goes according to plan, the result is a lightweight, inexpensive and highly efficient solar cell that can supply clean kW over a 20-25 year lifespan.

Perovskite solar cells to rescue

For those unfamiliar with this topic, perovskite is a naturally occurring mineral, Unique optical characteristics It makes it Ideal for PV applications..

Research on perovskite solar cells began in earnest about 10 years ago. US Department of Energy Among those who are eager to pursue. The result was impressive. The Sunlight conversion efficiency Perovskite solar cell percentages have jumped from 3% to over 25% over the last decade. In contrast, the solar cell semiconductors in use today took about 60 years to reach the 25% benchmark.

For gold-plating clean high-tech lilies, synthetic crystalline materials that mimic perovskite can grow relatively easily and inexpensively.

Army and Navy join 2D perovskite solar cell team

There is no such thing as a free lunch, and “raw” perovskite tends to fall apart when exposed to moisture and sunlight. This complicates R & D problems, but it is not an insurmountable problem. Researchers already understand a range of workarounds that can bring perovskite solar cells to market.

The remaining challenge is how to incorporate durability into perovskite solar cells without sacrificing solar conversion efficiency.

That leads to an army and navy mashup. This helped bring the mother of all workarounds. It is a two-dimensional perovskite solar cell that increases durability and efficiency rather than being lost when exposed to sunlight.

The Army Research Institute And that Navy Research Bureau Together with the National Science Foundation and the Department of Science’s Department of Science, we have provided financial support for new perovskite research.

The hard work was done by a team of engineers working in the laboratory of Aditza Mohite. George R. Brown Institute of Technology At Rice University. Let’s have Rice explain it here.

“Rice’s George R. Brown Institute of Technology’s Aditya Mohite lab found that sunlight itself constricts the space between atomic layers of 2D perovskite, improving the photovoltaic efficiency of materials by up to 18%. Is a phenomenal leap in an area of ​​progress, often measured in fractions of a percentage. “

As a record, this project was a joint project with the participation of Purdue University and Northwestern University. The Department of Energy has also hand-inserted chips from laboratories in Los Alamos, Argonne, and Brookhaven. With the support of the French Institute of Electronic and Digital Technology, with the additional support of the French Academic Institute, it has become an international issue.

2D Perovskite PV Solution: How It Works

The Rice team built a new 2D perovskite solar cell based on previous research showing a path to balance durability and efficiency.

“We have been working on it for many years and continue to use bulk perovskite, which is very efficient but less stable. In contrast, 2D perovskite is very stable, but to be installed on the roof. Is not efficient enough, “Mohite explains.

Recent iterations of perovskite solar technology have added two-dimensional structures for added stability. The Rice team has decided to abolish the 3D “bulk” structure and go straight to 2D. At that time, magic happened.

“When you ignite a material, you can see that it squeezes it like a sponge, puts the layers together, and enhances charge transport in that direction,” says Mohite.

“This effect gives us the opportunity to understand and coordinate these basic light-matter interactions without creating complex heterostructures such as stacked 2D transition metal dicalcogenides.” He added.

The actual amount of squeezing is negligible, but there is a big difference. After being exposed to the solar simulator, the team’s perovskite grid shrank about 0.4% vertically and 1.0% vertically.

“It doesn’t sound like much, but this 1% contraction of the grid spacing significantly enhances the flow of electrons,” said Wenbin Lee, a graduate student in Rice Applied Physics and co-author. Says. “Our research shows that the electron conduction of a material is tripled.”

It also shows that after removing the light, the grid immediately returns to its normal shape, which is more durable than the 3D version.

Group hugs for US taxpayers

Returning to the timeline of about 10 years to a conversion efficiency of 25% compared to 60 years, the research and development of such accelerated clean technology is because the people of the earth have only a window of about 10 years. It certainly helps prevent catastrophic climate change.

In the field of perovskite, some of the credit is used for the material itself. It also takes into account the breakthroughs in materials science over the last three decades, including the introduction of new, more powerful diagnostic tools funded by taxpayers.

For example, Joe Strzalka, a physicist at Argonne National Laboratory, co-author of a new solar cell study, acknowledges the laboratory’s “ultra-bright” X-rays. Advanced photon source Allows teams to observe nanoscale changes in the structure of perovskite in real time.

“It’s important to do an operand investigation for such changes,” Strzalka adds. “I basically want to take a video of this conversion, not a single snapshot, just as a mechanic wants to run the engine and see what’s happening inside the engine.”

“The sensitive equipment at APS Beamline 8-ID-E enables” operand “study. That is, it happens while the device is subject to controlled changes in temperature or environment under normal operating conditions, “Rice University adds.

APS was built in the 1990s, but it doesn’t seem to show anything yet.

“Comprehensive upgrade of electronic storage rings for facilities scheduled to begin in April 2023, Will Increase the brightness of those X-rays Until 500 As the times come, it will enable new discoveries and innovations that we have yet to imagine, “Argonne enthusiastically. “With new beamlines and enhancements APS, And put it at the forefront of X-ray science in the world. “

Accelerating climate change measures in the United States

The Rice team expects the new and improved APS to help take the next step in research and development.

“We are on the road to achieving efficiencies in excess of 20% by designing cations and interfaces,” explains Sidhik. “It will change everything in the field of perovskite, because people will start using 2D perovskite for 2D perovskite / silicon and 2D / 3D perovskite tandem, enabling near 30% efficiency.”

Of President Joe Biden Rebuilding a Better Climate Action Bill Is at stake, but the new perovskite research is just one of many initiatives to burn climate change into national policy through the Pentagon’s deep pockets.

In addition to the numerous clean technology initiatives made by army When Navy, U.S. Air Force Pushing the limits of clean technology In a new area.

Follow us on Twitter @ TinaMCasey.

Photo: “Rice University graduate student Wenbin Li is preparing a 2D perovskite solar cell. Testing with a solar simulator(Credit: Jeff Fitlow / Rice University).

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Army, Navy lends muscle to perovskite solar cells Army, Navy lends muscle to perovskite solar cells

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